First American winner for Animal Kingdom

The name of Animal Kingdom’s first US starter and winner, 2YO filly Sunny Skies, may well turn out to be an accurate forecast of the young sire’s prospects as he begins to build momentum with his first crop runners in both hemispheres. 

Smart showings at a series of local breezes ensured strong betting support for Sunny Skies when she lined up over 4.5 furlongs (900 metres) at Keeneland on Thursday and she duly delivered, taking an early lead and opening up in the home straight to score an unpressured nine-length victory.

Watch Sunny Skies win on debut at Keeneland. (Race replay courtesy of TDN)

A daughter of the unraced mare Skyscape (by Marquetry), Sunny Skies is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Sky Cape and is trained by Kenny McPeek for owner-breeder Nancy Polk’s Normandy Farm. 

It’s been a good week for Animal Kingdom who posted his third Australian winner, after Earth Angel & Platinum, when the Paul Messara-trained Arrowfield 2YO gelding Lord Cecil (ex Lady Zabelia by Zabeel) won his debut at Muswellbrook on 21 April.

He also added a couple of new placegetters when Table Mountain (ex Aliyana Tilde by Snitzel) and Barbary (ex Amatista by Scenic) filled the placings in a juvenile handicap at Wyong on 27 April.

Animal Kingdom filly makes $400,000 at Keeneland

Animal Kingdom, whose first Australian-bred 2YOs run this season, began the US sales season with a $US310,000 filly at Saratoga and has followed up with strong results by his first NH-bred yearlings at the Keeneland September Sale.

His top price in Book 1 was $US400,000, paid for his daughter out of Eltimaas (by Ghostzapper). The filly’s pedigree was given a significant update when her half-brother Drefong won the King’s Bishop G1 on 27 August, and Drefong’s owner, Juddmonte Farm, was the winning bidder.

Also in Book 1, Lot 38 from the Taylor Made consignment, a filly out of multiple stakeswinner and G3-placed Somethinaboutbetty (by Forestry), sold for $US300,000 to Animal Kingdom’s racing owner Team Valor International. 

Since then, the Dubai World Cup champion has added the $US350,000 Queens Carousel colt and the $US210,000 filly out of Blumen (by Dynaformer). With three of the Sale’s six books completed, Animal Kingdom is averaging just over $US118,000 for 31 lots sold.

Animal Kingdom’s first Australian crop averaged $186,000 at the major 2016 sales, with a top price of $310,000 paid by New Zealand owner Roger Blunt for Arrowfield’s stunning filly out of Cat By The Tale at Magic Millions.

After covering three full books at Darley’s Jonabell Farm, Animal Kingdom has been rested from his Australian duties this Spring and returns to Arrowfield in 2017.

The Arrowfield stable includes several Animal Kingdom 2YOs to be trained by David & Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, Team Hawkes, Nigel Blackiston, Grahame Begg,  John Sargent, Marcus Wilson & Paul Messara.